By Denis Keane, CPSU Executive member (personal capacity)
FOLLOWING ON from our demonstration of 4,000 people outside Dail Eireann on the 18 February, CPSU members took part in a one-day strike on 26 February. This protest and one day strike were in reaction to the pay cuts (pension levy) being imposed by the government.
The strike had the overwhelming support of other public servants. Even though they were threatened with disciplinary action, many public servants refused to pass the picket and in some cases joined our picket lines with their home made placards. On the day there was almost universal agreement amongst all grades that our unions needed to take co-ordinated and united action against the pension levy.
A sub committee of the Executive has been set up to act as a strike committee. CPSU members will now undertake a work to rule and various types of other action. This action, will be across the board action but will also include regionalised action.
However, what we are seeking to achieve is united action by all public sector workers. The PSEU has balloted by 71% in favour of action and we are now seeking to organise joint action with them and others unions.
Most public sector trade unions have tied their wagon uncritically to the proposed ICTU national strike on 30 March. Yet David Begg has said that ICTU isn’t opposed to the pension levy, it just wants to reduce its effect on the lower paid.
In reality, ICTU leaders are saying they are prepared to accept pay cuts for public sector worker in return for being allowed back into talks with their “partners”.
The CPSU must vociferously campaign through the media, and most importantly directly to all public sector workers, against ICTU’s position on the pension levy. The CPSU should not meekly accept the ICTU line. This pay cut has just hit our wage packets and more cuts are due in the new budget. If we don’t stop these cuts, then the government will keep coming back for more and more.
The CPSU should campaign for the scrapping of the pension levy to be made a central demand of the 30 March national strike and should propose a motion to this effect at the ICTU executive committee.
As the public sector union that has taken the first step in the battle against the levy and the government’s attacks on all workers, there is an onus on us to try to push all of the unions towards taking a militant stance in defence of jobs and pay. A united struggle by all 360,000 public sector workers can defeat this weak government – all that the “social solidarity pact” talks will do is deliver us up as sacrificial lambs to the government!